Standing one wintry morning on a bleakish railway station, waiting for his train to work, shy, socially inept Joel surrenders uncharacteristically to a sudden urge to hop an overland in the opposite direction, fetching up subsequently on a windswept beach where he meets blue-haired Clementine?a vivaciously garrulous cross between Annie Hall and Marla in Fight Club.
She’s rowdy, recklessly impulsive, tempestuous. He’s passive, withdrawn, awkward. They are each what the other is not, but there’s a mutual attraction, a feeling of recognition, a hint even that they may have met before, in circumstances neither can quite recall, memory?or the absence of it?becoming a principal issue in this deeply affecting, very funny film about love, delusion, emotional bafflement and the mental unravelling that leads to painful breakdown.
It’s another screenwriting triumph for the prodigiously gifted Charlie Kaufman, directed with visionary panache by Michel Gondry. The pair are well served by a brilliant ensemble cast that includes Jim Carrey as the troubled, lovesick Joel, a revelatory Kate Winslet as the combustible, unpredictable Clementine, an hilarious and touching Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson and Elijah Wood.
The film is too consistently ingenious for convenient pr